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Right now it seems that life is under renovation.

Things are being torn out, removed, repainted, repurposed, and rearranged.

Lots of questions are being asked and some of them are being answered. But some are still dangling there. Unanswered.

Tom Petty said some wise things.

I’ve wondered for the last few months if I should say anything here. And how to even say it. But after lots of thinking, I decided to go for it. Even if I don’t know how to do it. .

But in a nutshell, I’m looking for a job. No longer working at The Orchard here in Oxford. Looking for “new opportunities” out there. It was an interesting parting.

It’s been an interesting few months. I’ve been trying to learn more about myself, about God, and how the two of us can walk in step with each other more and more. What is He wanting me to learn about Him and about myself? What does He want to do with me and my family next? How does He want to use us?

Some days are great. Some days are pretty low.

But I have a confidence in Him that assures me that there is a plan. There is a purpose. And there is something around the corner (or the corner after that one) that is going to make sense of everything. So until I get to that corner and make the turn…I’m still just walking forward and asking Him lots of questions along the way.

But as Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part.

Okay, picture this situation. You need to get out of the house/office/dorm room and think it’s a good idea to head to the local coffee shop because you still have some stuff to do. Maybe you’re writing a paper, or Christmas shopping online, or tweaking your fantasy football team, or Facebook stalking, or reading blogs, trying to get to Inbox Zero, or whatever.

But as the minutes pass by and you drink more coffee (or tea or Coke Zero) you start to feel the need to go to the restroom. So then you’re faced with the conundrum: What do you do with your laptop?

Assuming you’re there by yourself, do you

  1. Close it up and carry it in the restroom with you?
  2. Close it, pick up the cord, put it all in the backpack and carry it in the restroom with you?
  3. Do you make eye contact with someone and say, “Would you mind watching my stuff?” all the while hoping they don’t run out with your computer as soon as you lock the restroom door?
  4. Do you just hope that everyone is as nice as you and would never steal a computer in a coffee shop?
I’ve walked in and seen a PC laptop sitting on a table next to an empty coffee cup and thought, “Who would want to steal that anyhow?” [Just kidding!] But there have been times I’ve seen a MacBook Air sitting there and wondered who would just leave that sitting there unattended? But often the shop is crowded, right? So if you pack up your stuff your table will be gone when you get back. So you leave the table covered with your stuff and therefore “saved”, right? But is a crowded shop more or less conducive to such a theft?
So the question to you is “What do you do with your laptop in a crowded place when you need a quick restroom break?

There is a wedding happening this weekend. And I’m a part of it. I’m honored to be a part of of the wedding because I think a whole lot of the two people getting married. They are each former members of my old youth group. Now they’re college grads. A nurse and a soccer coach. Ready to live life together and follow hard after God.

Bev and I actually have been doing some pre-marital counseling with them. And now, as the weekend approaches, we get ready to see them joined together before family and friends. And that means I have get to wear a suit on Saturday.

I had to find my suit. It’s really been forever since I wore it. And when I found it, it was only halfway found. It was the jacket only. So then I had to hunt for the pants. The jacket fit well. The pants? Well, lets say I’ve had the suit a while and haven’t worn it in a while. I got the pants fastened. But didn’t have a shirt tucked in. I may need to do a colon cleanse before the weekend, huh?

But it got me to thinking again about eating well, exercising right, and making healthy choices. I try not to think through these things in terms of vanity or hoping to impress anyone. But I really do want to be healthier, make wiser choices, and take better care of my body so I can be around to enjoy my children and future grandchildren. And the way I eat sometimes, I could make Twix bars be their own food group.

Here are a few sites I’ve been checking in on now and then that I think will help me make a few new choices about how I live.

Nerd Fitness: I recently came across this site. But want to eat it up. He talks about eating clean, exercising with simple movements, and setting goals to smash with a victorious shout. Check it out. You’ll like it. Plus it has a great forum too.
Marks Daily Apple: Mark Sisson lives by what he calls the “Primal Blueprint”. Basically eat/move/rest like our early, early ancestors. He lays it all out here, but his whole site is interesting and has an active forum.
The Paleo Solution: Robb Wolf knows his stuff. I’ve read his book. Now if I’d only put it into practice. But he eats Paleo style. And I really wish I could would as well. Peruse his FAQ. What do you think? [Oh, and he has a forum too]

If I followed the advice and lifestyle of these sites/books, I’m sure I’d have no trouble at all fitting into that suit of mine. And my Saturday would be much more comfortable while I’m actually “IN” the suit.

What sorts of changes do you want to make?

 

Yesterday marked my new baby’s fourth week of existence. Come Friday he’ll be exactly one month old. And I really assumed that being the fourth time I’ve brought a baby home from the hospital I’d be really used to things. But you really do forget some of the rougher parts of having a baby. I think your mind purposefully forgets some things as a coping mechanism.

Now don’t get me wrong. Having a baby is awesome. I mean, I’ve not birthed one myself, but welcoming a new child into the family…words can’t describe.

But after one month or so of having him home here are some things I’ve [re]learned:

  • People will tell you your baby is beautiful even if they only see a blurry picture from your phone on the internet. People think they must say it no matter what. But who can really tell? My friend Jeremy says they all look like aliens [but I didn’t know he’d seen an alien.]
  • When a diaper is really messy, the pooh seems to find every crevice/wrinkle it can to seep into. You can use a lot of baby wipes in a single diaper change.
  • A warm baby seems to think a room temperature babywipe is like a sloppy wet kiss from an arctic glacier breeze.
  • Sometimes a baby would rather sit in your lap in a darkened living room at 3:31 a.m. than lie in his own bed under a really soft blanket.
  • A wet belch can be the most  beautiful and eagerly anticipated sound of the day.
  • I don’t like close talkers in my space. And I don’t like close baby talkers in my kids space either. Especially when I’m holding him and they are in our space.
  • Babies fool you the first few days. They let you think they’ll be awesome sleepers through the night. In reality, they’re awesome sleepers all around at first. Then they have no clue what time it is and don’t care what you think about sleep cycles either.
  • Wet diapers have a weird smell.
  • Your wife nursing your baby is lots different than mixing formula and cleaning bottles.
  • Having older kids makes having a baby both easier and harder. Easier: they can help out in a number of ways. Harder: they still have needs for you to attend to, and sometimes you tend them with one arm while holding a [hopefully] sleeping baby in the other.
  • I’m still not sure if you can or cannot spoil a baby by holding him too much. Looks like we’ll find out.
  • I’m finally over being scared to break him. At first he seemed tiny. Changing a diaper or shirt was a big deal. Didn’t want to dislocate a hip or shoulder.
  • What worked to calm him down five minutes ago might not work again for another five days. SMH.

So on Christmas Day my mother in law comes over to see the kids and bring gifts and eat a late breakfast with us all. She’s always a flurry of activity in the kitchen getting things ready to put in the oven or take out of the oven or something else of that nature. But she kept having to go grab her cell phone because she kept getting “Merry Christmas!” text messages.

But she says, “I don’t know who half of these are from. It just shows me their number but not their name. So I must not have their number in my phone, right?” I smile, tell her “Yes, you are right.” and hatch a plan in my mind.

Five minutes later I sent her a text message using a number I know she won’t recognize: “Hey, Merry Christmas! I can’t wait to see you in a little while. I should be to your house soon. Do you have the hot cider ready?!?” Her phone dings and she starts laughing. “Here’s another message. And this person is going to be disappointed because I’m not there. But I have NO idea who this is!” But she’s laughing about it. I think it’s genius

About twenty minutes later I leave the room and  send her this one: “Hey, no one came to the door. You must be running a quick errand. Is it okay if I let myself in?” He phone dings. I am glad I left the room because now she starts getting a little worried. So she calls my brother in law who was still back home and asked him if anyone had been by the house or knocke on the door. He says no, and the she tells him she’s been getting strange text messages about someone coming by.

I’m in the next room doubled up laughing about it all. I’d told Addie about it and she told Bev, so Bev didn’t let me continue the joke any longer. I had about three other messages already planned to send. But Bev ended up telling her mom it was me all along. Annette thought it was funny too. She was a bit relieved. She thought it might have been a thief trying to case her place.

We sit down for breakfast and then I purpose to send my brother in law a text. Annette is all for it. I sent: “Hey, you mom said it was okay if I let myself in. Just wanted to make sure you were dressed. About a minute away from your house!!!” I clicked send, and her phone started ringing about five seconds later. “Did you tell anyone they could come on in the house!!!???!!!” Annette tried to keep her composure but she broke when he was talking about “reporting” the texts to someone.

So, two good jokes that were over before they should have been. But fun while they lasted.

Christmas 2010

12/27/2010

This was probably one of the most relaxing Christmases I’ve had in the past few years. In times past it seemed like there were more things to get done than time to fit it all in. But this year we kept on the move some, but then had some time to sit back and just enjoy the days as well.

Friday we went to Amory to spend the day at my mom’s. We exchanged gifts with her, hung out for a while, and then went to my grandmother’s house to eat supper with all the uncles/aunts/cousins and then open a few presents there. It’s always a lively bunch. And a crazy bunch.

We left late that night, found a gas station still open after 10pm on Christmas Eve, and drove home. The kids went right to bed and Bev and I got everything set up for the next morning by the tree. The kids were not expecting Santa Clause to come. They’ve never been big Santa kids, but they still look forward to Christmas morning to get presents.

The next morning I woke up at 7:55 a.m. On Christmas morning. And I woke up on my own. No kids waking me up. I was amazed. They were all still asleep! But with in three minutes Addie comes running in telling me it’d snowed! And indeed it had. Supposedly the first snow in Oxford on Christmas day since 1913. Oh, and my mother in law hadn’t showed up yet! Now, I don’t mind her coming over on Christmas…quite the contrary. But last year she called a six-something in the morning asking if we were awake yet. I said, “nope”. I thought she was about to leave Tupelo to head our direction. Turns out she was about to turn into our neighborhood!

Anyhow, she came over for a late breakfast and stayed til early afternoon. Then my dad and step-mom came by later that day too. So the day was filled with more family and a few more presents and lots of candy being eaten. The kids had a blast, and we only had about two real times where they were about to fight over toys! It seems that six year old girls and two year old boys can be quite opinionated and possessive at times.

I know in times past I’ve bemoaned that Christmas time doesn’t seem like the same feeling I used to have. But maybe I’ve gotten past that. Or maybe I’ve gotten more involved with my kids at Christmas instead of the “cultural” feeling of Christmas. Or maybe I’ve realized ….I don’t know. Maybe it’s that it is what you make it, and now that I’m a big boy it’s up to me to put more effort into it. And I still don’t want to let myself or our kids fall into an idea of Christmas being about gifts and decorations and candy/food and everything.

I don’t think we do, necessarily. And you can ask our kids what Christmas is about and they’ll tell you straight up. Rowan even went around singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jesus for a few days. But when I look back over the last week and month, I realize that we, as a family, didn’t spend enough time discussing, praying about, and looking towards Christmas and the coming of the Christ Child.

Next year, that will change.

Two of my favorite memories from Christmas: one was when the kids ran from their room to see their gifts out by the tree (we left most unwrapped (we’re strange like that )) they were really excited. But as they sat side by side infront of their gifts, Addie, our oldest, kept talking to her brother and sister about all the cool things they got. She was so excited for them. It was awesome. Then she moved on to take a closer look at her gifts as well. But seeing her excitement and encouragement for her sister and brother was heart warming.

And another was how I punked my mother in law on Christmas morning. I’ll post about it next!

When it rains…

09/19/2010

Thursday night I noticed the air conditioning making a funny noise. When it was running it sounded like a tick! or a ping! sound. I know those aren’t quite the same. But it was a metal on metal sounds. And throughout the night into the morning it got a little faster. One of those, “Hmm, I wonder what that is?” sounds. Plus it created a rumble too. All out of the ordinary.

The next morning we turned the air up and all was silent. But as it would turn on/off in the day I noticed the sound changed to more of a metal on metal, sheering sound. Like “I could start shrieking any minute” sound. A “but I still like to rumble a lot too!” sound. As it got worse/louder I decided to call an AC guy. It was Friday afternoon and he had three more stops to make. So he told me what to look for. So I’m in my 140 degree attic taking off panels and reaching around in blower wheels and motors and stuff. I’m afraid I’m about to lose a few fingers or my hand now and then. But after repeated calls and “what is a squirrel trap? where is the ‘set pin’? Are you sure you can’t come look” questions I decided to wait it out. I mean, it was loud. But it was cooling things off.

But it got louder and louder. So I called another AC guy. He came (it was now after 5pm. So “weekend rates apply”) and quickly surmised that my blower motor was shot. Wouldn’t last the weekend. But wouldn’t hurt to run it til it died. But I left it off thinking I’d save a few bucks to try and buy this blower motor that I’m sure is expensive.

It’s been a warm weekend too. But not unbearable inside. We’ve not run the AC at all since Friday afternoon even in 95 degree weather. But it’s actually cool at night. I did try to turn it on a few minutes ago just to see. But when I flipped the switch  it sounded like I’d released a few Transformers into my attic and they were about to bust through the ceiling. As cool as that might sound, I turned it off.

Oh, and guess what? Yesterday my wife’s van decided to quit working. She was in town. And we were going to meet her. But when we came back, I had to drive her van home. It had gone dead on her, but never did for me. But the “O/D Off” light was blinking. And every time the transmission shifted it felt like a Transformer was kicking the front of the van. But I made it home.

After looking around Google a bit I determined it was either a busted transmission or a solenoid something or other. Probably anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a four digit number I don’t want to consider right now. But it still ran, right? So I was going to drive it to church this morning. But I only got about 30 yards out of my subdivision before it went dead. And then… it. would. not. crank!

Finally it did. And I thought I was going to have to leave it on the side of the street. Ella was with me and kept asking a dozen questions a minute: “Dad, why are you hollering at the car?” It took me about 10 minutes to get my van back home (about a half mile?) and got a ride to church. But tomorrow I get to find a way for the van to make it to a shop. But a auto mechanic or a transmission shop? Who knows?

The joys of house/car ownership!

So I know I’ve been needing to make a change in my life. Specifically for my body. That was the motivation behind The Challenge from back in the spring. And FYI I came in second in The Challenge losing around 15 pounds. I’ve put a little of that back on because I’ve stopped running frequently. A goal would be to regularly do CrossFit workouts. They are intense, but I’m probably not near in shape for them right now. But what about P90X?

I’d heard of Power 90 and P90X before. But didn’t know if they were gimmicky or not. My wife owns more Tae Bo videos than you can find at WalMart. And those just seemed dumb to me. But then I started hearing from people I knew in real life about P90X. And finally caught the infomercial. Then saw the countless “transformation” videos on YouTube. And thought, “I should do this!”

P90X

I know I need to add strength and flexibility in my body. And my back/abs/core are pretty pitiful. It seems every other month or so my lower back will get really sore and stiff. So I was thinking P90X can help me with some overall fitness goals. Plus pullups are hard, and I’d love to do a lot of those.

After searching eBay and CraigsList I decided to buy a legit copy instead of risking getting scammed. But I found a great deal where I got 25% off. So I bought the P90X videos, bought a pullup bar (from Walmart.com), and started it last week. Here’s my one week review:

The first three weeks are exactly the same. Then there is more variety afterwards. But here is how the first week shook out.

  • Day One – Chest & Back + Ab Ripper X: It was lots of pushups and pullups. Like a lots. And a few rows. So I did twelve exercises then repeated those twelve. You had your basic pushups, but then wide, military, diamond, “under the fence”, and decline. And you had wide grip pullup, reverse grip, close grip overhand pullups. And then some rows. I tried to do the “Hundred Pushup” plan a  few times. But this was pretty tough. And pullups are tough. I can knock out about four or five maybe with a few days rest. But doing multiple sets of different types…I tire out quickly. I only had some weights that my wife already owned (15lbs) so doing rows with those was almost pointless. But buying dumbbells is expensive and I’d already bought the set of DVD’s and the pullup bar. Ab Ripper X? Man, that’s a weak point of mine. And it kicked my tail. It burned. But I did better than I expected. But there are exercises where I’m supposed to lie on my back and point my leg straight up to the sky. But my inflexible body can’t do that. Hopefully it will w/in the next 90 days. But Ab Ripper X definitely burned. And I took breaks instead of doing all 339 reps of core exercises.
  • Day Two – Plyometrics: It’s basically a lot of jumping around. It takes some balance.  But gets your heart rate up. And makes you sweat some. P90X likes you to sweat a lot.
  • Day Three – Arms and Shoulders + Ab Ripper X: Curls, shrugs, presses, dips, kickbacks, etc. Just lots of that over and over. For some of the exercises 15lbs was perfect, for some it was too little, and for others it was too much (if you’re wanting to get in the 8-12 rep range). But it gave me a good workout I think. It produced some soreness. And more Ab Ripper X. Could tell my abs were sore from before.
  • Day Four – Yoga X: On the front end I was wondering if I’d like this or not. I know some people love Yoga. And I know a guy who likes to do the Yoga X video often. This video was 90 minutes! Let’s just say I did only 30 minutes of it. And I pushed to get to that 30 minutes. I hated it. I’m inflexible. And you gotta hold these poses and positions. And it takes strength to do it too. And I was already sore from the first three days so it was tough. And not enjoyable. But my aim is to finish it at some point. It made me sweat more than the others so far I think. And I only did it 30 minutes (and some of that 30 minutes was me standing up saying, “I can’t do THAT!”
  • Day Five – Legs & Back + Ab Ripper X: This had lots of squats, lunges, and more pullups. The pullups were about like the first day of pullups. Tough. But hoping to improve. The leg exercises? TOUGH. For me at least. When I’ve been to gyms I’ve never done much in the way of weighted squats. And when I did, my back ended up hurting in a few days. These were all body weight leg exercises. But it was over and over and over. My legs were burning afterwards for a bit. And I finally had to get a towel to sop up the sweat as I did the workout. But the biggest consequence was the days that followed. My legs were sore as crap! I walked funny. It was the first real sore that affected how I moved around. And more Ab Ripper X. They’re going to get hit three times a week at first it seems.
  • Day Six – Kenpo X: It’s a karate workout. Supposedly. It’s a lot of kicking and punching. But I think it’s a cardio workout masked as a karate workout. I guess it’s sort of like Tae Bo now that I think about it.
  • Day Seven – X Stretch or Rest: My body is about a flexible as my concrete driveway. So I really need to do the X Stretch workouts. But I took a rest instead. It fell on a full day. That’s my excuse. So I can’t review the Stretch

So after one week I’ve done seven of the 12 DVD workouts. I’ve not done X Stretch; Cardio X; Core Synergetics; Chest, Shoulders, Triceps; and Back & Biceps. The workouts are good. They can be long though. You’re using your body weight for resistance in many of them. But I definitely got sore. At least it’ll tone you and maybe rip you up (IF YOU FOLLOW THE EATING PLAN). But I don’t know that anyone is going to add much bulk.

Think about it, the only chest work you’re doing is variations of pushups. And trust me, they’re not easy. But you’re not getting down on a weight bench and pressing lots of iron above you. Same with the legs. Now my legs are weak already, so I’m not complaining. But sometimes I look at these videos and wonder if the people got big using weights in a regular gym, and then got definition and shredded using P90X? Also, through out the whole 13 weeks, you are only targeting your chest or legs once a week where most weeks your back is getting two days a week. Interesting.

So, after one week what do I think about P90X? I think it’s probably too early to have an informed opinion. But my partially informed opinion is that it’s a worthy exercise program. Some people might not want to watch their TV or computer screen for an hour a day. Yes, an hour. And the Yoga is 90 minutes. But I don’t have to drive to the gym or drive home and can manage my kids’ schedules easier if I do it at home as well. I can see why some people love it. But I can see why some think it can get boring. In a real gym can you get in a quicker workout using free weights? Probably. And Tony Horton, while not over the top, is borderline cheesy sometimes on the DVD’s. And I need to get a few more dumbbells to have variety in the poundage to get the best results.

So I think it will be a great program to go through a time or two. Plus, once you have the equipment there’s really nothing else to buy. They will sell you tons of supplements and nutrition drinks and such. They’re probalby good. But it can get pricey too. But the key to remember is that your body composition is 80% what you eat. So unless you’re paying good attention to what you eat, you can have an 8-pack of abs, but have it covered in a layer of cookies, ice cream, and fried foods so that you never see your abs.

P90X comes with a very detailed eating plan. I’ve not read it yet. I should. But I have to finish eating up the ice cream in my freezer first! I did actually take some “before” pics after I did the fit test. Maybe one day I’ll show them if there’s enough difference after 90 days.

I don’t plan on doing a weekly update about P90X. Maybe after the first full month. But definitely after the 90 days are done.

I’m not a coffee lover. Not really even a coffee liker. I bet in all of 2009 I drank one or two cups. And that was from the coffee maker in my office. My office mate drinks it like mad. I have a friend whose blog has a title about it. One who argues on blogs about it.

Growing up my stepdad drank it everyday. I was used to the smell. But never really tried it. But then later the culture decided it was cool. And then I moved to Clinton where there were a couple of coffee shops. I tried to like it. It’s what I’m supposed to do, right? I’m cool if I like a $4 cup of java. But I just can’t make it work.

Yesterday I went to a coffee shop here in town to get a bit of work and reading done. I still usually like the vibe of a coffee shop. But I got a Coke Zero. I almost got a Vitamin Water.If it had been really cold outside I might have gone with hot tea or hot chocolate. Sometimes I go in and just grab a chair or table and don’t even buy anything at all.

But I used to think I needed to drink coffee to validate myself or to fit in. No more.

Do you like coffee? Why so? And if not, why not?

Time for a reboot

01/11/2010

Looking back on the archives I brought over I realize there were times when I would post quite often. And it’d be about pretty much whatever. I didn’t have to have anything big or grand to post about. Maybe it was about being in downtown Jackson and my brakes not working. Maybe it was an old Friday’s Feast. Maybe it was just about my sleep habits.  But what ever it was, I just posted.

But somewhere along the way I started almost worrying about what I’d write. Would it be interesting? Would anyone care? Would it get a comment? So I’d get stuck in over analyzing things and try to think of the right thing to write about or say. And that would basically freeze me into inactivity. And I’d not post. And then since it had been a while since my last post, I thought I needed a “really good one” for my come back. So then I’d over analyze the next “really good” post. And then I’d still just think, “I should write something tomorrow…”

So no promises, but I intend just to write. And if no one reads it, well, so what? It should be fun, right? I mean, sure, still put some thought and effort into things. Each post shouldn’t just be a stream of conscious. But it doesn’t have to be the next award winning writing either.

I remember when I posted my first real post I ended with these words:

What sort of voice will the blog have? Will it focus on specific things, or anything goes? How personal will it be? Well, it’s still little more than an embryo…so it has lots of growing and maturing to do before it develops a recognizable personality. I hope you hang around with me to see how things go.

And while I know it’s no longer an embryo, I think maybe my blog is going through puberty. It’s experiencing some changes. And is trying to figure out it’s place. There was a time when I thought I’d blog mainly about MSU sports, or Christian culture, or what happened to me and my family today, or what tech stuff I wish I could own or whatever else. But instead of trying to find a niche and impress anyone in particular, I think I’m just going to write what’s on my mind. We’ll see how it goes.